Despite the fact that it has become increasingly touristy over the past few years, Hoi An has an undeniable unique charm that sets it apart from other Vietnamese cities. It is a UNESCO heritage town that has preserved its architecture from the old days when it used to be a major port in South East Asia. It showcases an eclectic mix of Chinese, French and Japanese influences and of course local Vietnamese traditions.
We spent 4 nights and 5 days in Hoi An, and it was definitely more than enough time to wander around the ancient town, make two-day trips outside of the city and spend quality time at the pool (make sure you book a hotel with a pool!)
Here’s my complete travel guide on what to see/do, where to eat and stay in Hoi An.
See & Do
If you visit Hoi An during the weekend, don’t miss the lantern festival on the riverside. The colourful boats and floating candles is a truly magical sight.
During the day, go on a photo walk around the ancient town. You will find endless photo opportunities in every corner. The flowers, the beautiful mustard yellow facades, temples, and quaint boutiques make for such a visual treat.
After a full day dodging bikes in the ancient town, make an escapade to the tranquil rice paddy fields of Tra Que. Many people cycle there but we opted to walk. It took us about one hour with some stops along the way. Once at Tra Que, we walked around the village and enjoyed a tea break at Tra Que Garden, a local eatery overlooking the herb plantations. I recommend trying their local lemon & mint drink, it was delicious!
On the same day, you may want to check out An Bang beach, as it is just 15 minutes away from Tra Que on foot. Any Bang beach is said to be Hoi An’s best-kept secret, and rightfully so. It is a long strip with clean sand, beautiful palapas, and a super laid back vibe. For a more quiet and relaxed experience (and cheaper sunbed rental) make sure you find a spot away from the entrance area. If you’re feeling adventurous, there’s also a chance to try parasailing, banana boat and jet ski at reasonable prices. End your day with a cocktail at Soul Kitchen.
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Eat & Drink
If you feel adventurous, try the famous egg coffee at Hoi An Roastery. This is a cafe chain that can be found in various spots around the Old Town. The drink menu is really broad, there’s something for everyone.
Check out the beautiful wine bar and jewelry boutique Duong. The lovely patio is the perfect oasis for a quiet break and some Instagram shots.
Eat a Bahn Mi (or two) at Madam Khanh – The Banh Mi Queen. It is hands down the best Bahn Mi in town. I’m drooling now just thinking about it! There’s a vegetarian option, which is delicious as well. We loved it so much that we wanted to eat there again the following evening, but when we arrived they told us they ran out of bread… the disappointment was real. We could only take the beautiful memory of that Bahn Mi with us, hoping that one day we can come back to Hoi An to have it again.
We ate lunch and dinner at Morning glory three times during our stay. That says it all, right? The food here is fresh, flavourful and most of all, consistent. Whatever you order, you can trust it will be good. Our favorite dishes were the ‘Three Best Friends Spring Rolls’ and the papaya salad.
For a caffeine fix, check out Rosie’s Cafe, a hipster hangout tucked away behind the Japanese Bridge. The Vietnamese Iced Milk Coffee was superb (a bit strong though, so you may get jittery if you’re sensitive to caffeine).
If you are more of a tea lover, don’t miss Reaching Out Tea House. It is run by hearing and speech impaired staff so the idea is to encourage less talking and more mindfulness. Spending 30 minutes here sipping on delicious tea felt like some sort of meditation. We loved it.
Oh so many shops in this town…! Most of the stores sell the same stuff, but if you browse carefully, you will be able to find some really good finds. If you are into straw bags and quilt products, check out Mekong+, a shop that sells products made by and for the local community.
Apparently Hoi An is famous for custom made tailoring – there’s so many of them everywhere you go. At first, I dismissed the idea of getting new clothes because I wasn’t sure they would be able to recreate what I like, but then I went into a shop and the lady was so helpful that I spontaneously decided to order a linen dress. I’m glad I did because I’m so happy with the outcome!
- Related post: A Quick Guide to Getting a Custom-Made Dress in Hoi An
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